Taking care of your people is such common phrase in the workplace. Managers and leaders use it often when they are describing managers and what they should be doing. There is only one problem, many managers, supervisors, and leaders have no idea what it means to take care of you people. The most common technique people employ to attempt this feat is only to give people what they want. Although listening to your people’s wishes and wants is vital to a manager, only doing what they want will not improve the organization or the morale of its members. Let’s clarify what taking care of your people and how to do it.
Taking care of your people means making sure they have what they need to their job to the best of their abilities. What they need are physical things, like staplers or trucks, or psychological things like encouragement and praise. They also need standards and a supervisor willing to hold them to the standard and encourage them to exceed it. People hate working for a bad organization. It is like playing for a losing team. Nobody is happy when the team is always losing!
In my experience, I have found most managers only focus on one or two of these aspects. They usually understand the need for the physical tools their employees need but fail to realize employees don’t need sleep pods in their workspace to be happy or any other number of incentives managers use to improve morale and performance. Please don’t misunderstand, many of these incentives are great and can help, but if the foundation of the organization is not strong, morale and performance of the organization will be poor, these things will only provide a temporary boost. They are a Band-Aid for problems.
First, a leader needs to know that you achieve a high functioning organization with high morale by making sure employees know how to do their job and the manager holds them to high standards. Second, they need to know the manager expects all staff to contribute to the goals equally, or in their own way that has been discussed with the supervisor. Third, the leader needs to ensure there is fun in the workplace. So often fun is seen as a waste of time. If your people don’t have a good time at work, they will soon lose the desire to come to work. Find ways to have fun. Lastly, reinforce the behaviors you wish to encourage the type of culture you want.
My final point is about momentum. If you are on a losing team with low morale and poor performers, but you are not in a position to hire or fire, don’t be afraid to start in one area and focus on it intensely until it is right. Once those things start to fall in place, you will be able to use the momentum to make other changes and improvements. If you implement the fun things too soon, you will lose when you start focusing on the harder work standards. Build a solid foundation on the core tasks and then move out from there.